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tv   Interview with Representative Brenda Lawrence  CSPAN  December 25, 2016 3:23pm-3:33pm EST

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and will it move america forward? >> you have plenty of michigan legislative experience. in terms of learning about the bills and the language in bills and the amount of work that you have to cover, compare and contrast, here and in the house and your previous work in other elected positions? rep. lawrence: in other elected positions, i had the latitude, the time and luxury of knowing and owning every piece of legislation. i knew everything as a mayor that moved in my city. here it is so important. you have to bring on qualified staff. they have to be people that will invest and strengthen you and keep you informed because the pace here is one that i have never experienced in any other office i have held. >> you said even on a losing vote, every vote counts. tell us about what you feel is your biggest accomplishment, whether that was a piece of legislation or something that
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that may happen. -- in may happen for a constituent. rep. lawrence: one of my bills, if i first bill was about foster care. i have found my voice. foster children do not have a family or a parent to advocate for them. they are wards of the court. what we do in legislation to support them and protect them. i in the education bill passed that in every school district, it that takes federal dollars -- so we can start investing. are children grag graduating? that was powerful for me. now i'm on the caucus here. i'm going to make a difference for those children and that to me is a major sense of accomplishment.
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>> how difficult or easy was it getting republican support for measures like that? rep. lawrence: it was bipartisan. that is something that was refreshing for me. we no longer need the strong labor workforce. we need a skilled trade workforce. that's been bipartisan. we are building that caucus to say in america, we legislatively have to have an agenda to build a workforce so they can sustain our economy and move it forward and be competitive. >> you mentioned bipartisan success and foster care and now into adoption. give us another area in the 115th you think there might be an avenue for you to work in a bipartisan way with republicans. rep. lawrence: transportation, infrastructure.
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i was one of those voices. infrastructure and transportation is one that both candidates talked about in their agenda. that is a place that i have a voice coming from michigan, coming from the area where i have water, i have international borders, i have automotives, roads and bridges, i was a mayor. these are things that i can bring a voice and i will be fighting for infrastructure and transportation. we are almost in the third world condition in america and we need leadership in that area. >> you won re-election obviously. your state went for donald trump. tell us briefly about your election experience and what you're taking away from other michiganners on donald trump's win. rep. lawrence: we as democrats need to make sure our message is inclusive of all people. i will tell you, as we have been the conscious, i feel in our government where we are the voice for those who don't have a voice. somewhere we missed our target when it comes to rural america and white america.
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we need to make sure that our message is inclusive of all people, which is what we stand for and i have learned that from this and i'm going to work with our democratic party to make sure that never again does any segymingt of our community feel that they are not part of our agenda. >> congresswoman brenda lawrence from a detroit michigan. thank you so much. >> do you sense as the republicans are moving to the right? rep. ashford: i don't know if the republicans are moving to the right particularly. i think the democrats need to be careful. in they have already lost a a great swath of the middle of the country. by not really appealing to people in nebraska, for example.
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when bob kerry ran for governor, overumber of democrats republicans was just a handful. now it is 200,000. my sense is that john boehner is not a far right conservative republican. he is a pragmatist. that's my sense. i think some of the candidates, jeb bush, for example, to me, is an -- i really admired his father. is a very appealing candidate. i think if the democrats need to be -- bring themselves back into the center of the voting population like bill clinton did. i think bill clinton was a master at it. >> with congress brad ashford to have second district of nebraska. we just showed a clip to our viewers of our interview in 2015. you said democrats were losing some of their appeal in the middle of the country and republicans back then hasn't moved that far to the right.
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where do you think the parties stand now in 2016? rep. ashford: i think the trump phenomenon could not have been predicted in early 2015. i do think the democratic party does need to get back to the center and they need to talk directly to the needs of working people and that means specific, clear messaging that talks about what we as a party stand for regarding work, your children, college education, all of those -- college tuition, all of those issues -- health care, all of those issues that affect families. i think the messaging has to change. certainly more pragmatic le when i first came into office, the issue was destroying isis. that's where everybody was focused more or less. now that seems to be pivoting a way from that.
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>> you lose a close election this year. tell us about the things you feel you got done that you're proud of and some of the things left undone. rep. ashford: unquestionably some things for the distribute, -- the district, the runway at the air force base, it is a national security issue. developing a center for infectious disease and research and training at the university of nebraska medical center, working on the hospital for v.a.. those are localized kind of things with national implications. really as i look back at it, it was my time on the armed services committee, three trips to the middle east. changing the direction of the fight against isis by funding the military in more re-robust manner, doing hits in a nonpartisan way, increasing the air war against isis. those kind of things happened within the last two years. i think those are accomplishments for the entire team. i was part of it and i was proud
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to be part of it. >> as you leave congress, what's your best guidance for your successor as he comes in? rep. ashford: well, you really is to be independent, i think, being from a small state, especially early in your career, i felt going in that i wanted to look at the issue in front of me, not necessarily the party solution to the problem. and i think that served me well. we have been named the fifth most bipartisan member and i think we have been independent. i think that's what nebraskaans want. that is kind of the base level standard for nebraska members. my successor is a good guy. had great career in the military. i think he would be wise to continue on that tradition. but i'll leave it up to him. >> you talked in our 2015 interview about fundraising. two years goes by in the blink of an eye, i suppose.
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tell us about how difficult the fundraising aspect of it is. rep. ashford: it takes away dramatically from what should be the focus here. it is not so much the actual fundraising itself but the pressure to rundraise. everything sort of morphs into that. everything political morphs into that whether it is a two-year term. i think it is really the citizens united impact allowing money to flow into elections without any idea where the money is coming from. my campaign for example, at the end of the day, it wasn't money raised by my opponent that influenced the election. it was the amount of money that came in from outside groups through the leadership pack on the republican side. millions and millions of dollars. well, i could never raise enough money to compete against that. we had groups that came in and


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